Hamza President Pervez Musharraf confirmed
Saturday that an Egyptian and top Al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan
had been killed, but someone claiming to represent the terror
group denied that the man was dead.
Asked by reporters on arrival at Kuwait airport
to confirm a newspaper report that Hamza Rabia was killed in a
missile strike on Thursday, Musharraf said: "Yes indeed, 200
Musharraf said Hamza was killed "in North
Waziristan", a tribal area on the Afghan border.
"It is a place called Mirali, or little north of
this town, that’s the place," he said. "I think he was killed
the day before yesterday (Thursday), if I am not wrong."
In Islamabad, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao
also confirmed the killing and made clear that Rabia was
Egyptian. The Dawn newspaper, which had reported the news
earlier Saturday, had said he was a Syrian.
"Al-Qaeda operative Hamza Rabia, who was killed
in the explosion, was an Egyptian national," Sherpao told AFP.
"He was a very important Al-Qaeda commander."
"Five people were killed in the explosion and we
have identified that one of them was Hamza Rabia. There were two
other foreigners but we do not know their identities," he said.
Officials say the bodies of the two locals were
found in the house, but that those of the foreigners, including
Hamza, were believed to have been spirited away.
They said intelligence had intercepted
inter-militant communications, according to which the man known
as Nawab, a Hamza alias, had been killed.
But Al-Arabiya television said it had been
contacted by a person claiming to be from Al-Qaeda denying that
Hamza was dead.
"An official from the Al-Qaeda group has denied,
in a telephone conversation with the Al-Arabiya channel, that
Hamza Rabia has been killed," a presenter on the Arab satellite
channel told viewers.
The caller said five people were killed in the
explosion, but that they were two local men, two Tadjiks and an
Arab named Suleiman al-Moghrabi.
According to a CIA list of most wanted Al-Qaeda
terrorists operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan seen by AFP,
Hamza has a five million dollar bounty on his head.
Dawn claimed the casualties were the result of
an explosion inside a house, but tribal witnesses insisted that
a "hail of missiles fired from unmanned air vehicles struck the
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid said the
explosion was not a result of any operation in the rugged
region, where the army has been hunting for Al-Qaeda and Taliban
Musharraf’s visit to Kuwait, his first to the
emirate since taking power in 1999, is the first leg of a Gulf
tour that also take him to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
He is due to hold talks with Kuwaiti Prime
Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah during his two-day
Musharraf said the purpose of the visit is "to
strengthen political bonds through stronger economic and
commercial relationships ... and how to enhance our commercial
and economic relationships."
Talks will also tackle "coordination on the
anti-terrorism campaign that Pakistan and other countries are
involved in," he told reporters at the airport.
The official KUNA news agency quoted Musharraf
on Saturday as saying that his talks in Yemen will discuss
efforts to improve intelligence cooperation in the fight against
In Saudi Arabia, Musharraf will attend the
summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Oil-rich Gulf Arab states have pledged hundreds
of millions of dollars in aid and airlifted large amounts of
relief assistance for survivors of the devastating quake that
recently struck south Asia, mainly in Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia announced an emergency aid package
worth 133 million dollars to help rebuild infrastructure in
Pakistan, while Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates pledged 100
million dollars each.
Half of the amount granted by Kuwait will be
offered in the form of relief assistance while the other 50
million dollars will be used to repair infrastructure damaged by